Happy Birthday Taral Hicks!




Happy Birthday to actress and singer Taral Hicks!

Taral is most known for her role as Jane Williams in the 1993 American crime drama film, “A Bronx Tale,” alongside Robert De Niro. She was also featured in “Belly,” “Forbidden Fruits,” and “The Salon.” Taral had a role in Tyler Perry’s “Aunt Bam’s Place,” released on DVD in 2012. She is currently touring the U.S. in the stage play, “Soulmate?”

Musically, Taral recorded a cover version of Deniece Williams’s 1981 song “Silly” for her 1997 debut studio album “This Time” which peaked at #4 on Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.

Happy 85th Birthday Lorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930-January 12, 1965)





Renowned playwright Lorraine Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930.

The youngest of four children, Lorraine was born in Chicago, IL, to Carl Augustus Hansberry, a successful real-estate broker, and Nannie Louise (born Perry) a school teacher. In 1938, Hansberry’s family moved to a white neighborhood and was violently attacked by neighbors. They refused to move until a court ordered them to do so, and the case made it to the Supreme Court as Hansberry v. Lee, ruling restrictive covenants illegal.

After graduating from Englewood High School in 1948, Hansberry broke her family’s tradition of enrolling in Southern black colleges and instead attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison. While enrolled at the university, she changed her major from painting to writing, and after two years decided to drop out and move to New York City.

In New York, Hansberry attended the New School for Social Research and then worked for Paul Robeson’s progressive black newspaper, “Freedom,” as a writer and associate editor from 1950 to 1953. She attended the Intercontinental Peace Congress in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1952 when Paul Robeson was denied a passport to attend.

Hansberry met Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish songwriter, on a picket line, and the two were married in 1953. She continued to work part-time as a waitress and cashier and wrote in her spare time. By 1956, Hansberry quit her jobs and committed her time to writing.

Hansberry completed her first play in 1957, taking her title from Langston Hughes’ poem, “Harlem.”

“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore — and then run?”

She began to circulate the play, “Raisin in the Sun,” trying to interest producers, investors, and actors. Sidney Poitier expressed interest in taking the part of the son, and soon a director and other actors (including Louis Gossett, Ruby Dee, and Ossie Davis) were committed to the performance. “Raisin in the Sun” opened on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, making Hansberry the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway.

The play, with themes both universally human and specifically about racial discrimination and sexist attitudes, was successful, and a screenplay soon followed in which Lorraine Hansberry added more scenes to the story — none of which Columbia Pictures allowed into the film.

Lorraine Hansberry was commissioned to write a television drama on slavery, which she completed as “The Drinking Gourd,” but it was not produced — NBC executives apparently didn’t support the idea of a black screenwriter writing about slavery.

Moving with her husband to Croton-on-Hudson, Lorraine Hansberry continued not only her writing but also her involvement with civil rights and other political protest, even after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In 1964, “The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality” was published for SNCC (Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) with text by Hansberry. She divorced Nemiroff in 1964, though they continued to work together.

In October 1964, Lorraine Hansberry moved back into New York City as her new play, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” began rehearsals. Although critical reception was cool, supporters kept it running until Lorraine Hansberry’s death in January 1965.

After her death, her ex-husband finished her work on a play centered on Africa, “Les Blancs.” This play opened in 1970 and ran for only 47 performances. He also adapted many of her writings into the play “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” which was the longest-running Off-Broadway play of the 1968–69 season. It appeared in book form the following year under the title “To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words.” ( Singer and pianist Nina Simone, who was a close friend of Hansberry, used the title of her unfinished play to write a civil rights-themed song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” together with Weldon Irvine. The single reached the top 10 of the R&B charts.)

“Raisin,” a musical based on “A Raisin in the Sun,” opened in New York in 1973, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, with the book by Nemiroff, music by Judd Woldin, and lyrics by Robert Britten.

“A Raisin in the Sun” was revived on Broadway in 2004 and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Revival of a Play. The cast included Sean Combs (“P Diddy”) as Walter Lee Younger Jr., Phylicia Rashad (Tony Award-winner for Best Actress), Sanaa Lathan and Audra McDonald (Tony Award-winner for Best Featured Actress). It was produced for television in 2008 with the same cast, garnering two NAACP Image Awards.

A second revival of the play occurred in 2014, starring Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Anika Noni Rose and Sophie Okonedo. Receiving 5 Tony nominations (one for the play, one for the director and one for each of the female leads), it garnered 3 awards: Best Revival of a Play, Best Direction of a Play – Kenny Leon, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – Sophie Okonedo.


Happy 69th Birthday Cher!


Happy Birthday: Grace Jones


Happy 90th Birthday Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)


Happy 84th Birthday Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989)




Remembering Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989)…choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, NY. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance.

His company gained the nickname “Cultural Ambassador to the World” because of its extensive international touring. Ailey’s choreographic masterpiece Revelations is believed to be the best known and most often seen modern dance performance. In 1977, Ailey was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988, just one year before his death.

Happy 34th Birthday Brooklyn Sudano



Happy Birthday to actress, singer and dancer Brooklyn Sudano (born January 5, 1981). She is best known for playing the role of Vanessa Scott on the ABC sitcom My Wife And Kids and Felicia on the TV series Cuts. Sudano is the daughter of Grammy Award winning singer Donna Summer and songwriter Bruce Sudano.

Happy 75th Birthday William “Mickey” Stevenson




Happy Birthday William “Mickey” Stevenson

William “Mickey” Stevenson is a former songwriter and record producer for the Motown Records group of labels from the early days of Berry Gordy’s company until 1967, when he and his then-wife, singer Kim Weston, left for MGM.

Stevenson was head of the A&R department at Motown during the company’s “glory” years of the mid-1960s when artists such as the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and Martha & the Vandellas came to the fore. He was also responsible for organizing and establishing the company’s in-house studio band, which came to be known as The Funk Brothers.

He wrote and produced many hit records for Motown, some with co-writer and producer Ivy Jo Hunter. They included his biggest success, “Dancing in the Street”,which he co-wrote with Hunter and Marvin Gaye; “It Takes Two” (Gaye and Weston), “Ask the Lonely” for the Four Tops, Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”, “My Baby Loves Me” (Martha & the Vandellas), “Can You Jerk Like Me” by the Contours, “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” for Stevie Wonder and Gaye’s “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”. He also wrote “Devil with the Blue Dress On” in 1964 with Shorty Long, which became a hit for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels in 1966. He also wrote under the pseudonym Avery Vandenburg for Jobete’s Stein & Van Stock publishing subsidiary. In 1969, he founded a label called People Records which recorded Kim Weston and other acts such as Hodges, James & Smith, but the label dissolved around the time James Brown’s unrelated label of the same name was founded in 1971.

In recent years, Stevenson discovered and produced the R&B female artist Jaisun for an album that reached #1 in major breakout markets,[which?] but he has largely been involved in producing stage musicals. The latter include Swann, Showgirls, Wings and Things, The Gospel Truth, TKO, and Chocolate City.

Happy Birthday Valerie Watson-English



Happy Birthday to singer Valerie Watson-English (Club Nouveau)…born on January 5th.

Happy Birthday Dyan Cannon




Happy Birthday Dyan Cannon!
Cannon is an American film and television actress, director, screenwriter, editor, and producer.
Cannon made her screen debut in 1960 in The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, however her small screen debut was in the late 1950s including a guest appearance on Bat Masterson in 1959, in the episode entitled “Lady Luck”.
Another role was as Mona Elliott, with fellow guest star Franchot Tone, in the episode “The Man Behind the Man” of the 1964 CBS drama, The Reporter, with Harry Guardino in the title role. She also made appearances on 77 Sunset Strip, the perennial western series Gunsmoke, The Untouchables and the syndicated Two Faces West in the 1960 episode entitled “Sheriff of the Town”.
In 1969, Cannon starred with an ensemble cast led by Natalie Wood in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, a film about sexual revolution in which she played Alice. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film, as well as two Golden Globe nominations.[citation needed] Most of Cannon’s later roles in the 1970s were less successful, although she did receive a Best Actress Golden Globe nomination for Such Good Friends (1971).
In addition, she became the first Oscar-nominated actress to be nominated in the Best Short Film, Live Action Category for Number One (1976), a project which Cannon produced, directed, wrote and edited.
It was a story about adolescent sexual curiosity.

In 1978, Cannon starred in Revenge of the Pink Panther. That same year, she appeared opposite Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and James Mason in Heaven Can Wait. This performance earned her a second Oscar nomination and also won her a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1976, she hosted Saturday Night Live during its first season. She was a guest in the fourth season of The Muppet Show in 1979.
In the 1980s, Cannon, who is also a singer/songwriter, appeared in Honeysuckle Rose (1980) with Willie Nelson, Deathtrap (1982) with Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine, Caddyshack II (1988) and has starred in several TV movies.

In the 1990s, she appeared on the popular television shows Diagnosis: Murder and The Practice, as well as being a semi-regular on Ally McBeal. She made appearances in films such as That Darn Cat (1997), 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997), Out to Sea (1997) with the duo Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, and Kangaroo Jack (2003).
She also starred on the short-lived sitcom Three Sisters (2001–2002).
In 2005, she appeared in Boynton Beach Club, a movie about aging Floridians who have just lost their spouses

Happy Birthday Janis Hunter




Marvin Gaye met Janis Hunter in March 1973 while working on his Let’s Get It On album with producer Ed Townsend. Townsend’s former girlfriend Barbara Hunter arrived in the studio with Janis that month.
Janis’ presence served as inspiration for Gaye during the making of the album. After their first date, Gaye was inspired to record the composition, “If I Should Die Tonight”.
Their courtship started once recording was completed.
During Gaye’s 1974 concert tour, he performed the ballad, “Jan”, to his new love. Janis first received public notice when she was featured with Marvin on a November 1974 issue of Ebony.
On September 4, 1974, the couple welcomed their first-born, daughter Nona, in Washington, D.C..
Son Frankie Christian followed a year later in Los Angeles on November 16, 1975, a day before Marvin III’s Birthday. After Gaye’s divorce to Gordy was finalized, Gaye married Janis in October 1977 in New Orleans.

The contents of Gaye’s 1976 album, I Want You, was heavily inspired by Gaye and Hunter’s torrid affair.
Author Michael Eric Dyson stated that their relationship in inspiration to the creation of I Want You was “nearly palpable in the sensual textures that are the album’s aural and lyrical signature”.

Happy Birthday Ted Lange



Happy Birthday TED LANGE!!!
(Ted in 1977, Ted-today)
An American actor, director, and screenwriter best known for his role as the bartender, Isaac Washington, in the 1970s TV series The Love Boat.
Gavin MacLeod who played his captain in the series, have remained close friends, who in turn, talks to Lange on the phone, continuously.
Lange was a cast member of the musical Hair.
His first screen appearance was in the documentary film Wattstax in 1973.
After appearing in the film Black Belt Jones in 1974, he portrayed Junior on the series That’s My Mama before landing the role of the ship’s bartender, Isaac on The Love Boat in 1977, opposite favorite idol Gavin MacLeod.

After the series ended in 1986, Lange appeared in various films and guest roles on 227, “The Cleveland Show” Glitch!, Evening Shade, Scrubs, Drake & Josh, The King of Queens, and Psych.
In addition to his film and television work, Lange has also done extensive theater work. He made his Broadway debut in 1968 in the musical Hair.
He also performed in a one-man show, Behind the Mask: An Evening with Paul Laurence Dunbar.
During the run of The Love Boat, Lange also served as director and screenwriter on various episodes of the series. In 1977, he wrote the screenplay for the 1977 drama Passing Through, starring Cora Lee Day and Marla Gibbs.
In 1999, Lange directed two episodes of The Love Boat: The Next Wave, the UPN series based on The Love Boat. He also directed episodes of Moesha, Dharma & Greg, and Eve.

In 2008, he directed the drama For Love of Amy.
Lange has also done extensive theater work as playwright and stage director.
He has penned seventeen plays including George Washington’s Boy, a historical drama about the relationship between the first president and his favorite slave, along with the comedy Lemon Meringue Facade.

Happy Birthday Denise Katrina Matthews



Happy Birthday to Denise Katrina Matthews (born January 4, 1959), better known as Vanity and sometimes credited as Denise Matthews-Smith and D.D. Winters…former singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, and model.

Vanity’s career lasted from the 1980s until the early mid-’90s. She was the lead singer of the female trio Vanity 6, which recorded the 1982 R&B hit “Nasty Girl”.

Happy 35th Birthday Jeannie Mai



Happy Birthday to makeup artist, fashion expert, actress, and TV personality Jeannie Mai (born January 4, 1980).

Happy 40th Birthday Jill Marie Jones


Happy Birthday to actress Jill Marie Jones (born January 4, 1975). She is best known for her role as realtor Toni Childs on the UPN/CW sitcom Girlfriends.

Happy 80th Birthday Floyd Patterson (January 4, 1935 – May 11, 2006)



Remembering professional boxer and former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson (January 4, 1935 – May 11, 2006).
Floyd Patterson is an American heavyweight boxer and former undisputed heavyweight champion. At 21, Patterson became the youngest man to win the world heavyweight title.
He was also the first heavyweight boxer to regain the title. He had a record of 55 wins 8 losses and 1 draw, with 40 wins by knockout. He won the gold medal at the 1952 Olympic Games as a middleweight.

Although Mike Tyson later became the youngest boxer to win a world heavyweight title, Patterson remains the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion.

Although Patterson fought around the light heavyweight limit for much of his early career, he and manager Cus D’Amato always had plans to fight for the heavyweight championship.
In fact, D’Amato made these plans clear as early as 1954, when he told the press that Patterson was aiming for the heavyweight title.
However, after Rocky Marciano announced his retirement as heavyweight champion of the world on April 27, 1956, Patterson was ranked by Ring magazine as the top light heavyweight contender.
After Marciano’s announcement, Jim Norris of the International Boxing Club stated that Patterson was one of the six fighters who would take part in an elimination tournament to crown Marciano’s successor. Ring then moved Patterson into the heavyweight rankings, at number five.
After beating Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson in an elimination fight, Patterson faced light heavyweight champion Archie Moore on November 30, 1956, for the world heavyweight championship.
He beat Moore by a knockout in five rounds, and became the youngest world heavyweight champion in history, at the age of 21 years and 10 months. He was the first Olympic gold medalist to win a professional heavyweight title.

Ingemar Johansson knocks out Floyd Patterson and becomes boxing heavyweight champion of the world, June 26, 1959.

After a series of defenses against fringe contenders (Hurricane Jackson, Pete Rademacher, Roy Harris and Brian London), Patterson met Ingemar Johansson of Sweden, the number one contender, in the first of three fights.

Johansson triumphed over Patterson on June 26, 1959, with the referee Ruby Goldstein stopping the fight in the third round after the Swede had knocked Patterson down seven times. Johansson became Sweden’s first world heavyweight champion, thus becoming a national hero as the first European to defeat an American for the title since 1933.

Patterson knocked out Johansson in the fifth round of their rematch on June 20, 1960, to become the then first man to in history to ever regain the undisputed world heavyweight title. Johansson hit the canvas hard, seemingly out before he landed flat on his back. With glazed eyes, blood trickling from his mouth, and his left foot quivering, he was counted out. Johansson lay unconscious for five minutes before he was helped onto a stool.

A third fight between them was held on March 13, 1961, and while Johansson put Patterson on the floor, Patterson retained his title by knockout in the sixth round to win the rubber match in which Patterson was decked twice and Johansson once in the first round.

Johansson dropped Patterson twice in round one.
Johansson had landed both right hands over Floyd’s left jab. After getting up from the second knockdown Floyd abandoned his jab and connected with a left hook that knocked down Johansson.
After that Patterson came on with a strong body attack that wore down Johansson. In the 6th round, Johansson caught Patterson with a solid right. But the power in Ingemar’s punches was gone. Patterson won the fight in the 6th round

After the third Johansson fight Patterson defended the title on December 4, 1961 against Tom McNeeley and retained the title with a fourth-round knockout.

However he did not fight number one contender Sonny Liston. This was due in part to Cus D’Amato, who did not want Patterson in the ring with a boxer with mob connections. As a result D’Amato turned down any challenges involving the International Boxing Club (IBC). 

Eventually due to a monetary dispute with Jimmy Jacobs, Patterson removed D’Amato from handling his business affairs and agreed to fight Liston.
Leading up the fight, Sonny Liston was the major betting line favorite, though Sports Illustrated predicted that Patterson would win in 15 rounds. Jim Braddock, Jersey Joe Walcott,

Ezzard Charles, Rocky Marciano and Ingemar Johansson picked Patterson to win. he fight also carried a number of social implications. Liston’s connections with the mob were well known, and the NAACP was concerned about having to deal with Liston’s visibility as world champion and had encouraged Patterson not to fight Liston fearing that a Liston victory would tarnish the civil rights movement.

Patterson also claimed that John F. Kennedy did not want him to fight Liston either.
Patterson lost his title to Liston on September 25, 1962 in Chicago, by a first-round knockout in front of 18,894 fans. The two fighters were a marked contrast. In the ring, Liston’s size and power proved too much for Patterson’s guile and agility.

However Patterson did not use his speed to his benefit. According to Sports Illustrated writer Gilbert Rogin, Patterson didn’t punch enough and frequently tried to clinch with Liston.
Liston battered Patterson with body shots and then shortened up and connected with two double hooks high on the head. The result at the time was the third-fastest knockout in boxing history.

After being knocked out, Patterson left Comiskey Park in Chicago wearing dark glasses and a fake beard for the drive back to New York. After the fight questions were raised on whether or not the fight was fixed to set up a more lucrative rematch.

Overnight Patterson seemed to lose his public support as a result of his swift knockout.The rematch was set for April 1963, however Liston injured his knee swinging a golf club and the fight was delayed to July 22, 1963.

In Las Vegas that night Patterson attempted to become the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times, but Liston once again knocked him out in the first round. Patterson lasted four seconds longer than in the first bout.

Following these defeats, Patterson went through a depression. However, he eventually recovered and began winning fights again, including top victories over Eddie Machen and George Chuvalo.
The Chuvalo match getting Ring Magazine’s ‘fight of the year’ award.

Patterson was now the number one challenger for the title held by Muhammad Ali. On November 22, 1965, in yet another attempt to be the first to win the world’s heavyweight title three times, Patterson lost by technical knockout at the end of the 12th round, going into the fight with an injured sacro-iliac joint in a bout in which Ali was clearly dominant.

Ali mocked, humiliated and punished Patterson throughout the fight.
Patterson was still a legitimate contender. In 1966 he traveled to England and knocked out British boxer Henry Cooper in just four rounds at Wembley Stadium.

In comparison, Ali never scored a knockdown against Cooper in their two bouts.
In September 1969 he divorced his first wife, Sandra Hicks Patterson, who wanted him to quit boxing while he still had hopes for another title shot.

Tina Knowles: Happy 61st Birthday!


Happy Birthday to Celestine Ann “Tina” Beyincé (born January 4, 1954)…businesswoman and fashion designer known for her House of Deréon and Miss Tina by Tina Knowles fashion brands. She is the mother of singers Beyoncé and Solange Knowles.

Happy 39th Birthday Tamika Scott



Happy Birthday to Tamika Scott…actress and singer, and former member of the female R&B group Xscape, (born November 19, 1975).

Happy Birthday 58th Birthday Garry George “Jellybean” Johnson





Happy Birthday to drummer, guitarist, songwriter, producer and musician Garry George “Jellybean” Johnson (born November 19, 1956). A member and drummer of the band named The Time who worked along with famed producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, he went on to help record several songs with other artists including Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle and most notably with Janet Jackson.

Happy 56th Birthday Terrence C. Carson

Happy Birthday to singer and stage, film, and television actor Terrence C. Carson (born November 19, 1958). He is best known for portraying Kyle Barker on the FOX sitcom Living Single.

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